There are a few different ways to learn that your computer volume is on. One is to just hit the volume buttons on the keyboard and see where you left it. Another is when you get an email or Slack notification and the ping sound sears into your brain.
A third option is when you pull up an article on ESPN.com to read about Alexander Mattison stepping in for Dalvin Cook, accidentally click on the video that appears on the top of the screen and all of a sudden Field Yates and Matthew Berry are screaming at you “MATTISON IS A NO-BRAINER, MUST START THIS WEEK!!!”
I get it, guys: He’s good.
We all know how about Mattison here in Minnesota, but people around the nation who have Cook on their fantasy teams probably don’t. He’s a third-rounder out of Boise State who rushed for nearly 500 yards last year, and maybe could have done even more with more touches.
He has put his background as a hurdler to use on the football field, leaping over perplexed defenders with ease, and could maybe have replaced Cook’s production in Gary Kubiak’s zone running scheme had the Vikings not been able to reach an agreement with Cook before the season started.
“Just to the eye test, Alexander Mattison can play,” Berry said. “He was a good player in college, he’s been a good player in the preseason or the limited time when he’s gotten run with the Vikings as well.”
Experts agree: Mattison is a must-have for fantasy owners this week, and is a good player in his own right.
“I’m counting on Mattison to blow us all away,” wrote CBS Sports’ Jamey Eisenberg.
“We’ve told you since last season that Mattison was a lottery ticket in case Cook ever missed any time. Mattison didn’t get the chance to cash that ticket in 2019 since he was also hurt when Cook went down in Week 16, and we had the failed Mike Boone experiment in many Fantasy championship games. Like many of you, I’m still upset over that one.”
Sarah Lewis of Athlon Sports echoed the same sentiment.
“Based on what Mattison did last week against Seattle, it’s not like we should expect much of a drop-off (from Cook),” she wrote. “Especially considering Mattison will get his shot at a Falcons defense that has allowed an opposing running back to score a touchdown in four of the last five games.”
I get it, when you see Cook head to the locker room with yet another injury, and Mattison run for 112 yards against the Seattle Seahawks, you start to wonder why the cap-strapped Vikings paid Cook. But that doesn’t give enough credit to Cook for his abilities to both barrel over defenders while being a viable option in the running game.
The issue isn’t whether Mattison can replace Cook’s production. It’s that you’d rather have a Cook-Mattison combination in the backfield than Cook and Mike Boone. For an undrafted player who has seen limited playing time in the NFL, Boone is a perfectly good player. He ran for over 250 yards last year and has shown flashes in the preseason.
He’s a step down from Mattison, however, and has shown his limitations with more playing time. For a run-first team like the Vikings, who want to control the clock and keep their defense off the field, they need a Cook-Mattison tandem.
We’ll learn after the bye week how long Cook will be out. But even if Mattison plays well against the Atlanta Falcons, as many expect he will, let’s not pretend that that means they don’t need Cook when he returns.